Author Archives: Rayna Vause

Happy Holidays!

I know that many of us are busy with holiday prep so I’ll keep it short. From all of us here at Attacking the Page, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

happy-holidays-gif-i0hc4wez

Rayna

Fun with Tropes

Tropes. Tropes are commonly used themes or devices. The romance genre is full of them. Amnesia stories, marriage of convenience stories, Cinderella stories we’ve all read and loved them.  Why? Probably because they are so familiar. While new and different is great. Sometimes, as readers, we want the tried and true.

Personally, I’m a sucker for the secret baby trope. They’re practically auto buy stories for me especially if you toss in some sort of royalty. I think the idea of  an ordinary person being thrust into a world of titles and tiaras is a fascinating concept. It’s also great fun to watch a hero cope with both a sense of duty to his people all while trying to adapt to being a husband and father. A favorite story that always comes to mind, that includes both of these tropes is I Married a Prince by Kathryn Jensen. It’s a classic Silhouette Desire that I really enjoy.

Taking a trope and using it as the base of a story can be a fun challenge especially if you’re looking to put a new twist on an old, favorite story. So, tell me what are your favorite tropes? Are you a fan of the the boss and the secretary? The ducking to swan stories? Please share and tell us why?

~Rayna

 

 

 

Forbidden Love by Ellis Carrington

Forbidden LoveAs you all know, I’m a huge fan of gay romance. I love to read it and I write it. So, I figured I”d use my post today as a bit of blatant promotion for my my good friend, Ellis Carrington.  Ellis’s latest release is a novella entitled Forbidden Love (Amor Prohibido).  It’s a great story, in English not Spanish as the alternate title might imply, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

Jacob Freehan has no job, no man, and no motivation. In pain both from ending a long-term abusive relationship and a severe back injury, he escapes to the sunny seaside town of Puerto Morelos, Mexico for a little yoga, a little R&R, and possibly a place to quietly end his own life.

Pakal is a centuries-old immortal Mayan spirit guide who has been charged with getting Jacob on the path toward healing. Romantic involvement with a spirit charge is strictly forbidden, and it has never been a problem…until now. Pakal sees something special in Jacob, but failure to keep a rapidly growing attraction at bay could result in Jacob losing his life and Pakal being condemned to the Underworld forever…

Now meet Ellis:

Romance requires a hopeful ending and that is why Ellis Carrington is driven to write it. She loves to create original stories that are gritty, witty, and a little unexpected, just like the heroes who inhabit them. Her guys come in both human and non-human form because spirit guides and vampires deserve love too. Her favorite things are great friends, great music, and books that make her laugh and cry like there’s no tomorrow. You can find out more about Ellis at her website, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you’re looking for a little man love mixed with your paranormal romance then check out Forbidden Love.

The Post Book Break

Aulani View

Most of September was a crazy month although the first week was pretty awesome. I spent the week in Hawaii.  Ah, so pretty and relaxing. While we were there we also went to Pearl Harbor. It was fascinating and sad all at one.  If you ever travel to  Hawaii it should absolutely be on your sightseeing list.

Then I came home and dove back into my manuscript. I am thrilled and excited to say that as of this weekend, I am finished and the book is off of my desk and onto my agent’s. I know it will boomerang back to me soon, but for right now I am taking a break.  This week it’s going to be me and my Xbox. I’m going into full gamer girl mode. Now that I’ve, at long last, hit the end I need to give my brain and my muse a vacation.  I’ll be refilling the creativity wells by immersing myself in the story of the game. That’s half the fascination of video games for me is the story.  The combination of the story and the fabulous graphics just transport me to another world. I can enjoy and relax and sometime get creeped out, but all in all I’m having fun.  While I’m distracted by games my subconscious is busy working on my next story.

So tell me fellow writers, what do you do for your post book break? Do you catch on missed television shows? Make a dent in the ever growing TBR pile? We all need to refill those creative stockpiles in between projects so please share how you recharge.

Elements of a Good Critique Partnership – A Repeat

Since I’m on the topic of Beta Readers, I thought I’d replay a post I did a while back about critique partners.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I am very fortunate. I have an awesome critique partner. Melinda won’t hesitate to tell me when I’ve gotten it right, and at the same time she’ll tell me when I’m stinking up the page. I like to think I offer the same to her. What makes our partnership work? There are many factors involved in finding the right critique match, but here are just a few things that work for us.

First, and most important, is trust. Without that you’re finished before you start. You’re putting your work in your partner’s hands in the hopes of receiving honest feedback and help in improving not just your manuscript, but also your overall craft. Bottom line trust is vital.

Complimentary skill sets are a plus. Both Melinda and I bring something different to the table. Things that I tend to be completely escape my notice she’ll pick up on and vice versus.

Have a thick skin. Being in the publishing industry, you’re going to need one anyway. You’re going to need to be able to take constructive criticism whether it comes from your critique partner or your editor. On the other hand, a good critique partner won’t try and tear you down or make you feel bad about your work. A good critique partnership is about mutual respect and honest input.

Be honest with each other. When I send pages to Melinda, I’ll tell her to tear it to shreds. Why? First, because the only way I’ll improve the story and my skills is if I have someone combing through it with a critical eye. Second, I know that the dissection will be done thoughtfully and with respect. Third, because she may have suggestions that would never occurred to me.

You don’t have to write in the same genre, but it helps to be a familiar with the genre your partner writes. A critique partner who is not familiar with your genre may be able to offer suggestions on the basic technical skills of writing, but not the nuances of the genre.

Communication is key. If you don’t feel that you can offer a helpful critique you need to let your partner know. For example, I write M/M romance. I realize it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Before I started sending chapters to Melinda or before I send to a Beta reader I let them know up front the nature of the story. I never want to send someone something they are not comfortable reading. Also, if life has gotten crazy, you need to let your partner know what kind of turn around time you can give them.

Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and be supportive when disappointments happen. Your partner will most likely be the one you turn to when things happen along your publication journey. It’s nice to have someone one to support you who also understands what you’re going through.

These are just a few suggestions of what makes a good critique partner. Do you have any other to add to the list?

~Rayna

The End…But Not Really

The EndSomething really exciting happened for me recently. I got to The End of another book. Woohoo!! But as I’m sure my fellow authors out there know, getting to the end is just the beginning. There’s still a lot of work ahead. But before tackling edits, I like to have someone read the story. Generally, I pick someone who has never seen the story before because I like to get a fresh opinion.

I consider myself lucky because I have many writer friends that will be very critical beta readers.  But sometimes you get back those comments and you just want to go hide under the covers. When I got back my friends comments on this draft I had a minor freak out. It wasn’t because the comments weren’t expected, I sort of knew my trouble spots.  It was that I had no idea how to fix the issues, and I was dreadfully afraid I was going to have to star from scratch.

Have you ever been there? Maybe it’s because you’ve already spent too much time with the characters and their story. Maybe you’re just sick to death of your books, as I tend to be when I get to the end.  But whatever the reason, it’s like you’ve slammed into a wall and you just can’t see a way around it.

Some say take some time away and let it soak in. I’m not that patient of a person. I like knowing that I’m done and I’m free to move on to other things.  What worked for me to tear down that wall was hashing it out with my brilliant beta reader. With a fresh round of brainstorming I pulled that wall down brick by brick and found a solution to my story problems that was manageable.

 

An Indecent Proposition by Stephanie Julian

An Indecent PropositionToday we have author Stephanie Julian with us talking about her latest book, a serial romance, entitled An Indecent Proposition. Welcome to the Attacking the Page Steph!

I got a call from my critique partner, Judi Fennell, last October. She wanted to know if I wanted to be in an anthology with her, Olivia Cunning, Cherrie Lynn and Cari Quinn.

I said yes. I’m not stupid.

Then I hung up the phone and thought, oh, crap, what the hell am I going to write?

My first idea was a novella based on my Forgotten Goddesses series. I actually started to write that story (and you’ll see that one, probably early next year) but then I got another idea.

Two men (because I love ménage stories), one woman and a whole lot of money for one night with her. Why all that money? Because money screws up everything. Otherwise, I had no idea why the men were going to give her all that money. And why would any sane woman take any amount of money to sleep with a stranger? To make this work, she was going to need a really good excuse. By this time, my brain had kicked in and was starting to work through scenarios.

When I get an idea, I almost always see the first scene of the story. Sometimes it doesn’t always stay the first scene but this time it did. Two men waiting for the woman they both want. And since this is one of my stories, they don’t have a problem sharing.

But one of the men was in the shadows. And he wasn’t going to be involved in the actual seduction. No, he was going to be watching from those shadows. Why?

Well, because he’s badly scarred, of course. Beauty and the Beast? My absolute favorite fairy tale.

And AN INDECENT PROPOSITION was born.

Erik and Keegan are best friends and owners of a multimillion-dollar company. Three years ago, Erik was horribly scarred by an explosion in their lab and Keegan lives with the guilt that it should have been him in the lab that night.

Julianne and her mom are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt due to her mom’s illness.

It’s a simple enough setup but it’s ripe with angst. I love angst. A love story needs good angst.

Since this was an anthology of novellas, AN INDECENT PROPOSITION was only 18,000 words. But I knew the story wouldn’t be complete. There are three parts so far. Part Four will be out in September and I plan to complete the story by Part Six.

I hope you’ll follow along on the journey. I don’t always know where I’m going but I know there will be some twists along the way. They make life so much more fun.

You can get AN INDECENT PROPOSITION PART I free at digital retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

Parts 2 & 3 are also available, as well as Volume One, which includes Parts 1-3.

Check out my website at www.stephaniejulian.com for more information.

Knowing When to Hit Send

Send ButtonHow do you know when it’s time to stop editing and just hit send? My writing group was recently having a discussion about the editing process. It stemmed from a comment an author made about how once they finished a manuscript they just send it out and they don’t bother with revisions unless and editor sent them a revise and resubmit. Was I surprised by the comment? No. I know there are writers out there who want to be assured of a sale before investing the time to do extensive revisions. Me, I could never do that.

 Being a part of professional writers organizations, polishing a manuscript until it’s as shiny as I can make it is sort of ingrained. For myself, I need to know that I’m putting my best work forward. I think about my most recent submission. I went through multiple rounds of critiques and beta reads before I was finally ready to hit the send button on the submission email. Believe me, I was half tempted to have someone do on more read through just in case. I stopped myself from doing that, but largely because my massive impatience kicked in. I just couldn’t deal with looking at those pages one minute longer. I wanted to be done with it and have it out of my hair. I wanted the sense of accomplishment that came with hitting the send button.  

I think all of us writers could go round and round reading, critiquing, and tweaking a WIP in the hopes of polishing our manuscript to perfection. But, at some point we have to let it go. We have to put it out there for the world to view. So writers, how do you know when you’re ready to let that manuscript fly? If you haven’t submitted anything yet, why not? What’s holding you back?

Adding PUNCH to Action Scenes

From time to time it never hurts to do a refresher of the basics. So, here’s a replay of one of Attacking the Page’s original posts by Melinda Leigh.

You can use fighting terminology to make your action scenes more interesting.  More specific words can add power to your pages.  This post will focus on punches and other hand strikes.  I’ll cover kicks another week.

The first thing you need to know is that fighter will generally angle her body away from her opponent to give the opponent fewer vital body targets. One foot will be slightly ahead of the other.  Fists will be raised to the chin to block any income punches, and mimicking his stance, one hand will be ahead of the other.  If the fighter is right-handed, she will generally put her left shoulder to her opponent. This leaves her dominant hand in the rear for power striking.  More on power later.

Visualize this.  If you stand squarely in front of another person, your entire body is facing his.  Your most vital organs/targets are in a straight line from your nose to your groin.  If you turn your body on an angle, your shoulder, arm and hip naturally block these areas.

There are four basic punches, which are put together into combinations.

jab – a short punch with the lead hand.  Since it’s not the most powerful strike, it usually goes to a weak area like the chin or nose.  Or it’s used to set up another punch.  Stepping into the punch makes it stronger by utilizing the fighter’s forward momentum.

cross – a stronger punch with the hand farthest from the opponent. The fighter’s body twists, driving forward from the hip, to generate additional power.  Common targets are the nose, chin and solar plexus.

hook – a punch that circles around to strike the opponent from the side.  Can go to the head, chin or body.  Because of the circular path, hooks to the body often connect with the ribs.

uppercut -  An inverted fist that drives up into the opponent’s chin or solar plexus.  The blow will originate in the hip area. A fighter will sink down a bit and use her legs to increase power.

Watch this Muay Thai kickboxer train her jabs, crosses and jab/cross combinations.

An experienced fighter will always keep her non-striking hand near her head/chin to block any incoming blows.

heel palm – A female fighter will use the heel of her hand instead of a fist when striking bony areas like the nose or chin of a male opponent.  This is because the bones of her hand are thinner and will likely be broken if she bare-knuckle punches a thicker-boned man in the face.  Unfortunately, if he punches her, it’s the bones of her face that will give.  Think of  a collision between a VW bug and a Yukon.  Doesn’t matter which car hits which, the bug is the one that’s going to get squashed.

Yes, I know, the women on TV punch men in the face all the time, but we’re talking reality here.

Other less common hand strikes include:

backfist – hits with the back of the knuckles

Hammer fist – strikes with the bottom of the fist in the same way you swing a hammer

chop – outside blade of the hand

thumb strikes/finger darts – eye strikes

half-fist – fingers bent at the second knuckle, fits nicely in the throat

claw – fingers curled in a claw, usually rips a soft target like the face or groin

elbows – extremely strong strikes

If you’d like to see these strikes in action, try searching on YouTube for videos.

-Melinda

What Makes a Hero Sexy?

word-sexyWhat makes a hero sexy? When a friend of mine posed this topic to me a while back, I figured this would be a pretty easy question to answer. The more I thought about it, I realized it wasn’t as easy of a question to answer as I’d hoped. Why? In part because sexy, in my opinion, is very subjective. What one person finds attractive another won’t. So,  I started thinking about some of the characters I found sexy in books and what traits made made them so appealing.

At the top of my list is Roarke from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I’ll also include both Joe Morelli and Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series. What do these particular characters have in common?

First they’re all attractive. That’s part of the fantasy after all isn’t it.  As a reader, I like to have pretty people wandering through my head as I’m told a story.  Depending on the writer they run the gambit on how descriptive they are in describing their characters attractiveness, but they leave you just enough room to formulate your own image of that character whether it be a celebrity of something that’s purely a figment of your own imagination.

Another shared characteristic of sexy heroes is intelligence. Let’s face it, your character could be an Adonis, but it they’re dumb as a stump no one is going to read on.  Me personally, I have a thing for the  geeky hero. For me super smart is extremely sexy.

A third trait that I think is part of the sexy hero formula is confidence.  Jumping back to the three characters I mentioned everyone one of them is a badass and they know it.  It’s not only because they can kick ass.  It’s their attitude it just drips with power and self assurance. It’s because of that confidence that it’s uber sexy when they make themselves vulnerable to the person that they love.

I’m sure there are more traits that make up a sexy hero these are just a few that come off the top of my head. But I’ll put it out there to you. What do you think makes a hero sexy and memorable?

~Rayna